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Vote on Virginia's revised historical standards postponed until next year

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The Virginia Board of Education plans to vote early next year on proposed revisions to state standards for history and social studies classes, state officials shared Wednesday, though board members said they weren’t sure what those standards would be. There is still deep disagreement about what it should look like.

The 2022 Learning Standards for History and Social Sciences, known as the SOL, will help teachers decide how to teach and which subjects to emphasize, but individual school districts have greater latitude in determining their curriculum. is. The standards are being revised as part of a periodic process that must take place every seven years under Virginia law, but this year’s changes prompted a state commission to delay the revision process by at least a month in August of his I ran into a problem when I chose to

Developed over several months by staff from the Virginia Department of Education in consultation with museums, historians, professors, political scientists, geographers, economists, teachers, parents and students, the 402-page criteria will be: was to be voted on. -The Member Board has postponed this vote to give five new members, all of whom are Governor Glenn Youngkin (Republican) appointees, time to review the criteria and more time for public comment. A member of the board appointed by , and Youngkin’s head of public education, Gillian Barrow, also said they were concerned about typos and the content of the standards, but offered little specifics.

Virginia Board of Education Postpones Review of Historical Standards

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Christonya Brown, the department’s history and social sciences coordinator, presented a new timeline for approving the criteria.

The department will allow public comment on the guidelines through the end of September, after which it will conduct “community engagement roundtables” with 100 participants at each event from October through November, and board an updated version of the standards in November. present to the meeting. The board will hold a hearing on the standards in December and a final vote to approve the standards in January. That puts him a month behind the deadline mandated by state law, said Daniel Gecker of the board. The law does not prohibit any repercussions for missing a deadline, and agency spokesman Charles Pyle said Wednesday he was not aware of any penalties.

Few disputed the timeline Brown had put forward, but some board members seemed skeptical that 100 people would be enough for the roundtable. Brown said adding more people would make the event unmanageable.

However, significant divisions have arisen regarding the content of the standards.

The latest edition of the revised standards suggests many changes to course content, structure, themes and concepts. One example requires students to draw more connections with their local communities and history. Other updates include reducing the emphasis on rote memorization and changing all references to Native Americans to read “indigenous”. One was the desire to “embed diverse perspectives”, such as acknowledging that “cognition is influenced by various sociocultural aspects.”

Brown said Wednesday that he did not initially plan to make “substantial changes or deletions” to the standards.

but she Youngkin’s appointee, Suparna Dutta, said the proposed criteria were “disturbing.”

“These themes and concepts speak of questionable concepts such as conflict and power relations, and tend to favor colonialism, imperialism, slavery, slavery, nationalism, racism, and cultural expressionism over fundamental economic principles. “I’m emphasizing,” she said.

Dutta specifically took issue with the proposal to replace the term “good citizenship” with “responsible citizenship” in some grades, arguing that this replacement would require standards to “make judgments or what to children. “Prejudice against teaching what is right and what is wrong.” “

Brown offered to meet with Datta one-on-one to better understand her concerns.

Youngkin’s other appointee, Bill Hansen, asked Brown whether the department would incorporate comments like Dutta’s as part of the staff’s work to review standards in the coming months.Brown She promised that she and her team would remain open “to all kinds of comments.”

Hansen further cast doubt on the company-wide adequacy of revising standards, noting that Virginia students’ test scores have fallen behind in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We feel that we are dealing with a destructive process when we need to put effort into putting the children back in place…this is not worth it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the current standards.”

Later in the meeting, Gecker, the appointee of former Governor Terry McAuliffe (Democratic), reminded the board that by law revisions must occur every seven years.

Youngkin’s appointee Andy Rotherham also expressed dissatisfaction with the standards and said the committee should consult with the Core Knowledge Foundation, founded by University of Virginia expert and educational theorist Eric Hirsch Jr. suggested. .. have been forced to become educational conservatives,” by arguing that progressive educational programs focused on multicultural perspectives tend to move away from fact- and knowledge-based learning. , has attracted support from political conservatives.

But members appointed by Democratic governors said the board shouldn’t try to form rigid standards.

Board vice president Tammy Mann, nominated by former Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is concerned that extra public comment sessions will create “too much opportunity to actually hear from people.” said.

She wants to ensure that the board “is committed to an accurate historical perspective to shape our thinking.”

Mr. Gecker told the board that the job has traditionally not been to compile documents page by page, and that work has been delegated to departmental staff.

But in January, a standardization vote was held, stating, “To the extent that the Board wants us to make line-by-line changes, we will make line-by-line changes.” He said the board will vote on whether to remove or retain all sections of the 400-page document, as appropriate.

He said he hopes this is not necessary.

“I don’t think this board, or frankly the Commonwealth, is too different in its views of history to reach common ground in an amicable way,” he said. “I hope I’m right about it.”